Location: 27 Forest Road, Wirrabara, SA
Artist: Smug Photo: Annette Green
Life isn’t easy in regional Australia, where many small towns currently risk being wiped off the map due to ongoing drought, declining industry, lockdown restrictions and other hardships. Typically located in remote areas lacking traditional tourism draws, few of these towns have been lucky enough to benefit from Australia’s booming caravanning industry either – until now.
The very first silo art mural was a pilot project in March 2015 by a cultural non-profit called FORM who wanted to bring art to rural communities. Together with the CBH grain handler two internationally renowned street artists Phlegm & HENSE were engaged to paint the grain silos in Northam, in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt.
It was such a great hit that a full trail of 6 silos were planned. The Public Silo Trail of Western Australia was a three year project that brought this permanent, open-air, truly public gallery linking rural and coastal towns across Western Australia’s southern regions. A game changer for bringing renewed emphasis to the positive perceptions of the regions, their people and industries, and the unique canvas they provide.A multi-generational quartet of farmers both male and female who show the strength and resilience that is required to be a country Victorian farmer. Brim, Victoria. Artist: Guido van Helten Photo: Trevor McGlone
In Victoria’s Wimmera Mallee region, a similar idea was conceived in 2016 after the success of the first silo artwork in Brim. What started as a small community project by the Brim Active Community Group, GrainCorp, Juddy Roller and artist, Guido van Helten resulted in widespread international media attention. The Wimmera Mallee Silo Art Trail was created as a partnership between Yarriambiack Shire Council, international street art agency Juddy Roller, Victorian Government, Australian Government and GrainCorp, who donated the silos as canvases for the artists’ work. This project saw a team of renowned artists from Australia and across the world visit the region, meet the locals and transform each grain silo into an epic work of art; each one telling a unique story about the host town.
Soon, many other regional towns across the country were angling for their own silo to be beautified, and for the visitors and rural revitalisation it would bring.
"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller."
– Ibn Battuta
Shortly after setting out on their own great Australian road trip in March 2018, Western Australian grey nomads Annette and Eric Green visited Dutch street artist Amok Island’s geometric banksia mural covering three grain silos in Ravensthorpe, the second silo painted in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt. The retired couple were so taken by the artwork that it inspired them to refocus their trip around seeking out more of the incredible large-scale public artworks that had popped up around the country, creating a series of driving trails with a difference.
While travelling around Australia in their converted Toyota Coaster minibus, the couple soon realised that tracking down the nation’s silo artworks wasn’t particularly straightforward due to a lack of a single resource dedicated to this outback art phenomenon. To assist other road trippers, Annette created a Facebook designed for travellers to share photos and information about the various silo artworks. It proved so popular that it prompted her to launch the Australian Silo Art Trail (ASAT) in 2019.
The only resource documenting Australia’s silo artworks on a national level, the ASAT website carries a state-by-state inventory of every silo artwork completed to date, complimented by vivid imagery and the story of how each artwork came to fruition. Silo art also appears to be serving as the linchpin of a more expansive upsurge of contemporary Australian 'rural mega murals' on more than 120 water towers around the country.
Australia’s ultimate road trip, the Australian Silo Art Trail, encompasses 10 different regional trails across 5 different states – a journey totalling over 8500km.
Reviewed 21 December 2022